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Maestro Ioan Holender at the Feraru Conferences Online

The hard-won lessons of an exceptional lifetime in the arts

Today's guest in the Feraru Conferences Online series is a powerhouse of international cultural management and one of the most admired Romanian personalities worldwide. With his trademark combination of unassuming wisdom, self-irony and charming abraziveness, Maestro Ioan Holender, the charismatic cultural leader who presided over the reinvention of two important international institutions, Vienna State Opera and George Enescu International Festival, and the mentor to some of the biggest opera stars, shares with the audience the hard-won lessons of an exceptional lifetime in the arts.

"If Hollywood was looking to cast the perfect opera house director, Ioan Holender, Director of the Vienna State Opera, would be ideal." - WQXR, NYC’s only classical music radio station (2009)

IOAN HOLENDER ( b. July 18, 1935 in Timişoara, Romania) is a Romanian-Austrian baritone, international arts manager and opera director of Jewish origin. He grew up in three languages, Romanian, German, and Hungarian. After taking part in the student uprising of 1956, he was expelled from the the Polytechnic Institute of Timişoara, where he was studying Mechanical Engineering. He was allowed to leave the country in 1959 to be reunited with his family in Austria and became interested in singing. After completing his music studies at the City of Vienna Conservatory, he worked as an operatic baritone and concert singer with the Klagenfurt Stadttheater. In 1966 he joined an opera artist management agency, which he took over after a few years only to turn it into one of the most sought-after international agencies. In 1992 Holender was appointed Director of the Vienna State Opera. For four years he also led the Vienna Volksoper. His contract with VSO was extended three times and concluded in August 2010, making him the longest-serving General Director in the history of the famous opera house. Ioan Holender has been Artistic Advisor for the Metropolitan Opera New York since 2010. He is an Artistic Consultant and Casting Director for the Spring Festival in Tokyo. From 2003 to 2015 he was the Artistic Director of the George Enescu International Festival and Music Competition in Bucharest. He is a lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies of the University of Vienna, a board member of the European Music Theatre Academy, and serves as a jury member for several international singing competitions. He has his own cultural magazine on the Austrian TV channel Servus TV, entitled “KulTOUR mit Holender”. Among many others decorations and awards, he is the recipient of the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, 1st Class (1995), the Order of Arts and Letters in rank of Officer (France, 1999), the Order of the Star of Romania in rank of Grand Officer (2001), the Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria (2002), the Order of Merit in rank of Commander offered by the Italian Republic (2004), the European Cultural Initiative Award of the European Cultural Foundation Pro Europe (2005), the Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd Class (Japan, 2011), and the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2011).

Photo credit: Servus TV / Hoermandinger



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